I have a shopping problem: I do too much of it. I purchase new hardware for work in order to stay on top of freelance assignments. I buy shit I don’t need when I’m depressed. I pick up new books to read even when I have plenty to read. None of it makes me any happier. In fact, I’m certain that the bad consumer habits I have are keeping me from being happy.
So, I quit. I’m going to make do with what I have for the next year, starting today.
I refuse to buy anything new, other than essentials like socks, underwear and food. The gear I have is the gear I’ll use. If something gets broken, I have to pay to repair it. There will be no new movies bought on iTunes. I’ll listen to the 10,000+ library of songs I already own. Software will have to be freeware or something I already own. And books? I’ll trade them for used ones, but that’s all that’s allowed.
Having too much is easily the most groan-worthy of first world problems. But it’s a problem that I plan on confronting. As my boss and friend Brian Lam is fond of pointing out, the cash we spend on crap we don’t need could be spent on paying down our bills, travelling or having a wonderful experience with people we care about. I plan on doing much of this in the future.
I’d like to share the experience of cutting back with you, if you’re interested. If not, well, the Internet’s a big place, so feel free to read something else. I’m such a lot of my thoughts on the subject will be banal, but maybe I’ll glean something interesting from the experience that might be helpful to you. I hope so.
Let’s see how this turns out.
Well, no big surprises here. Last year, the Nexus 7 was an editorial and popular darling due to it’s low price, decent design, respectable power and stock Android operating system. This year, ASUS and Google tweaked the tablet to be a little more of what it already was: A great, reasonably priced 7” tablet designed for the everyman. Not to big, not too small, not underpowered. Just right. If I needed to buy a tablet right now and wasn’t already heavily invested in Apple’s iOS ecosystem, this would be the slab I’d get.
You can read my full rundown of the reasons why over at The Wirecutter.
Computers are great because you can keep all of your stuff—like, ALL of it—on them. But computers suck, because they run out of room due to holding all of your stuff. Sometimes, they even break down, which means all of that stuff it was keeping gets lost. So you’ll want to have an external hard drive that can hold more stuff than your computer can, and maybe even back some of that stuff up, if that’s what you’re into.
I spent about 16 hours researching and writing about the Buffalo DriveStation DDR External Desktop Hard Drive for The Wirecutter. It costs a little bit more than other USB 3.0 drives, but for that extra scratch, you get a piece of hardware that’s 100% faster than any other USB 3.0 hard drive on the market. That’s a good thing.
I’ve been playing Civilization in one form or another since the early 1990s. I’d like to stop, but I can’t. It’s my digital crack. So when I was asked to review the final expansion pack for Civilization V, I had no choice but to jump at the opportunity.
I mean being paid to play a game that you’re given for free. Come. On. The only thing I regret about the experience was that Civ has always been an incredible time sink. So as I played it, the stress of the rest of the work that I wasn’t doing but should have been started to pile up. Ugh.
In the end though, it all worked out. You can read the review over at Mac|Life.
Great concept, horrible execution: that pretty much sums up the Sony’s VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid Touch Ultrabook.
Fast, powerful enough for most day to day computing tasks and some light gaming and insanely power efficient, the Duo 13 is a piece of hardware that I wanted to like, but in the end, couldn’t due to a poor hinge design that only allows for viewing in a fixed position when the Duo 13 is set up as a laptop, or as a tablet when its keyboard is stowed. That said, I have to applaud Sony for trying something different. It’s one god looking piece of hardware, but with the limitations presented by its design, I can’t imagine many people who’d be happy with it in the long run.
You can read my full review over at The Globe & Mail.
When I got a chance to take a listen to Bose’s Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speaker in New York City this past June, it was under controlled conditions. Bose gathered a handful of tech nerds, herded us into a specially build sound proof room in the middle of Grand Central Terminal, and let the music fly. All I could think about was that some engineer had likely spent no small amount of time doing math to figure out the optimum room size, best place to place the speaker and what music should be pumped through it in order to wow us. So, I took some notes that day, asked the project engineers for the hardware a few questions and decided that I’d leave passing judgement on the thing until I was able to spend some time with one in environments where nothing’s controlled, playing music that I know well and love.
It’s a great piece of gear, which I’m sad to say, easily beats down the best speakers I have in my home. This kind of irritates me for a few reasons. First, I’ve been trying to downsize the number of possessions in my life (ask my family and the wait staff at my favorite restaurant: both have been given a lot of hardware over the past few months,) so anything that I’m tempted to buy (which I then go ahead and pull the trigger on,) makes me feel like a weak consumerist failure. Second, for a portable speaker, at $220 Canadian, it’s plenty expensive, and there’s plenty of other things I could be spending my money on, or saving it for, instead of forking over for another conduit to blast my music through.
With this being the case, you’ve gotta wonder why’d I bother to buy one instead of just shipping it back once the review was over? A lot of reasons, most of which I cover in my review of the hardware for The Globe & Mail.
I don’t often have the time for anything outside of tech journalism these days (Seamus gotta eat,) but when Jim Dalrymple asked me if I’d like to write a piece for The Loop Magazine about anything I damn well please, I made room in my schedule.
Step Right Up is the story of Lesley and Karl Thurston-Brown: two of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to about their profession. Did I mention that they’re sideshow performers? No? OK, well, they totally are.
Performing as Prof. Archibald Floss, Human Oddity & Dr. Charlotte Tann, Snake Oil Pedlar of Some Global Renown, they’ve been pleasing audiences with their Mental Floss sideshow for years. But no matter how great their show is, the story of how they met trumps anything you’ll see on stage.
I know you want to know more. If you own an iOS device, you can see what’s behind the curtain by investing in a monthly subscription to The Loop.
Who would have thought that a topic as banal as spatulas, tongs and other barbecue accessories would wind up being my longest piece written for The Wirecutter or The Sweethome yet?
It took hours of research, time spent talking to experts and testing to figure it out, but I can now tell you without hesitation that the collection of tools I’ve put together over at The Sweethome are the best out there.
If you’re serious about your grilling, or just want to invest in some hardware that’ll last, you’ll want to take a gander.
It took a mad bit of rushing about, but in the end, we managed to sort out and interview and a story.
Chrissy Crowley is one of the finest Cape Breton fiddlers of her generation: an astonishing fact when you stop to consider the that she only picked up a fiddle for the first time a little over a decade ago. I recently had the opportunity to chat about her career, the music she loves and her latest record Last Night’s Fun.
Interested? Good. Buy a copy of the August 2013 edition of Irish Music Magazine and take a read.
Now that it’s available to buy here in Canada, I spent a week and a half trying to like Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD tablet. But I just couldn’t do it. While I can say a few nice things about the hardware, it’s a piece of gear designed to leverage Amazon’s media services, which aren’t available in Canada, and shopping facilities, which massively suck in Canada.
The short of it is that if you’re looking for a cheap tablet, you’d be better off with a Nexus 7. For the long version, you can check out my full review.